Sunday, May 6, 2012

Torah Comes to Sicily

I've carried Torahs--my quiet traveling companions--all across Italy by train and plane. This particular one, however, accompanied me to Palermo, where I presented it to the congregants of Ner Tamid Palermo. Thanks to a generous gift by attorney Domenick Porto, this small Torah scroll and I made our way across the Straight of Messina to Palermo. With the guidance of lay leader, Salvo Parrucca, the Torah will be used for Shabbat and festival services and serves as a benchmark for the rebirth of Jewish study and worship that has been absent publicly for 500 years since Inquisition times. 

Along with my assistant, Salvo, congregants include Vincenzo Li Calzi, who, with his wife, Amalia, opened their home to the dedication ceremony. Canadian guest, Laura Cattari, who traveled to Sicily to discover her Jewish roots joined the Palermo congregants, all of whom send their thanks to Attorney Porto, who, along with me, Professors Enrico Mascaro and Vincenzo Villella serves on the board of "Associazione per la ricerca e lo studio sul gl'ebrei in Calabria e Sicilia," (The Association for the Research and Study of the Jews of Calabria and Sicily). 

Attorney Porto, who also discovered and embraced his Calabria Jewish roots, is president of the Association which has operated since 2005 and supports the work of sinagoga Ner Tamid del Sud, my home base and the first active synagogue in Calabria in 500 years since Inquisition times.

The arrival of this Torah scroll is particularly special because it marks a milestone for Sicilian Anousim. In 2004 when we held the first Passover seder in Piano Battaglia to 2011 when New Tamid Palermo hosted two B'nei Mitzvah ceremonies on the island, we've been fortunate to offer services and festivals every year to so many in Sicily who want to discover and embrace their Jewish roots.

I look forward to more Torah dedications in Italy and elsewhere, to more travels with a beautiful Torah seated next to me as we head to our next destination.

1 comment:

  1. I am very happy that in my town, after 500 years, there is again a Sefer Torah for the Shabbat and festival services. I only regret not having been there. Thanks Rabbi Barbara, I hope to meet you, maybe next time you come to Palermo. Vincenzo Castellini.